Sustain members ‘delighted’ by plastic deposit return scheme announcement

The government announces plans for a deposit return scheme for bottles following a long campaign by a coalition of Sustain members.

The government will introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) in England, subject to a consultation later this year.

Sustain members Keep Britain Tidy, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Marine Conservation Society have led a campaign to introduce DRS in the UK. Their research showed that it could save councils millions of pounds a year

Currently UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment.

In a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) you buy the contents of a bottle, but only borrow the bottle - similar to milk bottle collection or the old Irn-Bru bottle scheme. The small deposit paid on top of the drink (Irn-Bru bottles had a 30p deposit) is fully refunded when the empty bottle is returned.

Scotland announced its plan for a DRS in September and several supermarkets have said they will pilot the scheme.

CPRE has campaigned for the introduction of a DRS for 10 years. Their litter programme director, Samantha Harding, said: 

“This is a brilliant and significant decision by Michael Gove. I am thrilled that we will finally see the many benefits a deposit system will bring to England, not least the absence of ugly drinks containers in our beautiful countryside.

“What’s significant is that producers will now pay the full costs of their packaging, reducing the burden on the taxpayer and setting a strong precedent for other schemes where the polluter pays. This really is a bold and exciting step by the Government.”

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says the move will significantly reduce plastic pollution: “an average of 72 beverage containers per 100m of beach in England were found in our Great British Beach Clean survey in 2017. This is a win-win situation for consumers, tax payers and the environment alike.”

You can watch a video from the CPRE on how the DRS would work.

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